March 24, 2023
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Life & Culture

Review: Queer coming-of-age tale blossoms with affection

Of an Age

Roadshow Entertainment

The story of aching hearts and long-suppressed desires slowly rising to the surface deeply resonates in director Goran Stolevski’s queer coming-of-age romance, “Of an Age.”

What starts it all off is a particularly tremulous morning comparable to the ferocious energy of a Safdie Brothers movie: aspiring ballroom performer Kol (Elias Anton) has to rush and find his close friend Ebony (Hattie Hook), stranded an hour away, to get to their dance final on time. However, this goal quickly becomes secondary to the feelings that develop between Kol and Ebony’s older brother Adam (Thom Green) when he agrees to the drive. As the two get to know each other and fall for one another over the course of 24 hours, they find themselves forever changed by the short yet formative time spent together.

Stolevski, who also wrote the script, has a clear, distinct vision here that beautifully brings to life the tenderness, humanity and ultimate heartbreak of falling for someone the world will do everything it can to keep you away from. It’s a story deeply rooted in queer identity and how freeing it can feel to finally find a person who is willing to see someone beyond the walls they have been forced to put up around them their entire lives.

The film’s conversational, slice-of-life approach has been compared to Richard Linklater’s “Before Sunrise” (1995), which is simply about two people talking and falling in love in Vienna, Austria. There is even a song played from director Wong Kar-wai’s stirring gay romance “Happy Together,” another clear influence on Stolevski’s vision here. These are high pillars of romantic dramas to stand next to, but “Of an Age” more than holds its ground through its rich storytelling.

The dialogue between Kol and Adam feels so realistic, with many hilarious moments allowing joy to shine through that only makes the later emotional beats hit harder. Perhaps what is most effective, though, is what is left unsaid between the characters.

It’s all in the glances they shoot at each other during quiet moments or the way their conversation suddenly shifts (or gets dropped entirely) upon entering a public space that devastatingly says it all. Their bodies gravitate naturally toward each other as the circumstances prevent them from outwardly expressing their love; a sad reality that may ring true for many queer audiences.

What really brings “Of an Age” fully to life is the profound performances by the two leads, making it irresistible to connect with the main couple’s blossoming affection. Kol is someone who is still very much closeted and discovering his sexuality, which makes the experience of meeting a more confident, older man so life-changing — something that Anton brings to life perfectly. In contrast, Green plays Adam’s maturity up through his character’s life experiences, while also conveying the deep vulnerability that he still allows those closest to him to witness.

The third act, which cuts forward 10 years, provides the film’s most heart-wrenching moments as past loves reconnect and the reality of time unapologetically moving forward hits the hardest. This is also where the story could have been expanded upon more. While the short 99-minute runtime allows for tight, economical storytelling throughout, the end feels a bit too abrupt. The script could have built more tension up to create a greater emotional catharsis.

Furthermore, the film’s use of music is, at times, slightly overbearing, but in crucial emotional moments, absolutely serves its purpose in bringing the character’s emotions to life that they oftentimes cannot express to their families.

“Of an Age” is truly a testament to the power of human connection and how it feels to fall in love for the first time. It’s about how people hold on to one another while they still can. When the credits roll, audiences feel the weight of Kol and Adam holding onto each other for as long as they can, even as the inevitable end becomes inescapable.

Matt Minton can be reached at